The Draft is over and the NFL focus shifts to offseason conditioning and training camps. But not before experts and draftniks pick apart the draft itself and try to gauge how each team’s picks will help them out this season or were highly questionable. Luckily I’m here to give you my take so you don’t have to go searching around the Internets for those grades. I don’t pretend to be Mel Kiper or Todd McShay, especially since my hair is not nearly as good as either of them, but I have my own special brand of insight. For this article, I’ll be grading the drafts of the NFC teams and the next one will cover the AFC.
Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald are thrilled the Cards got Michael Floyd at 13, since Fitzgerald now won’t face double teams and Kolb has another weapon. Their biggest need was the offensive line and spent 3 picks there with OT Bobby Massie(4th), OG Senio Kelemete(5th) and OG/OT Nate Potter(7th). All three of them are big values for where they were picked, especially Massie. They got CB and S depth in Jamell Fleming (2nd) and Justin Bethel (6th) respectively. Ryan Lindley is a good developmental QB, but they did not address the pass rush. Otherwise, this is a very good draft for Arizona.
San Francisco 49ers
The problem with the Niners’ draft wasn’t talent, but where they got it. WR AJ Jenkins and RB LaMichael James were each taken about a round early and there are questions as to how many reps James will get. OG Joe Looney(3rd) and LB Darius Fleming(4th) are decent picks that filled needs and S Trent Robinson(6th) was a great value and gives them safety depth. Their best pick was DE Cam Johnson late in the 7th. He had the talent to go in the 2nd or 3rd, so SF getting him so late was a major steal. The team didn’t have any major needs but did fill those they had. Fans only hope Harbaugh and Co knew what they’re doing with Jenkins and James.
This draft for Seattle will be defined by the Irvin pick, the biggest reach of the draft. Almost no one liked it and believed they could have gotten him a round later. LB Bobby Wagner in the 2nd and RB Robert Turbin in the 4th filled needs. QB Russell Wilson(3rd) didn’t, but he’s an intriguing pick. Their late round picks didn’t really get them any value and reached alot when better players were available. They didn’t address their WR need, so who will Matt Flynn throw to after Sidney Rice gets injured again?
St Louis Rams
They just missed both Blackmon and Floyd, but addressed their WR need with Brian Quick(2nd), who has big upside, and Chris Givens(4th). CB/S Trumaine Johnson(3rd) helps the secondary and if CB Janoris Jenkins can stay clean, he’ll be an enormous value in the 2nd. DT Michael Brockers in the middle of the 1st is questionable since he needs some development and they could’ve gone O-line to help Bradford. They waited until the 5th for that, picking OG Rokevious Watkins. RB Isiah Pead gives depth behind Stephen Jackson, but could’ve gone a round later. The Rams gave Bradford some targets, but failed to get him good blockers.
The Falcons didn’t have much to work with, due to the Julio Jones trade, but did fill some needs. Their first pick, in Round 2, was OC Peter Konz is a tremendous value since he easily could’ve gone in the 1st. OT Lamar Holmes was a big reach in the 3rd as he was projected to go in the later rounds. They did help out the O-line, their biggest need, but could’ve made a better selection then Holmes. They filled their DE need with Jonathan Massaquoi in the 5th, who could’ve gone a round or two earlier. Atlanta did the best they could with what they had, but didn’t address some of their needs, so it’s tough to grade this draft as a whole.
Getting Luke Kuechly at No 9 might be one of the better selections of the draft. He’s an outstanding defensive player who will help out the LB corps. G Amini Silatolu wasn’t a need, but is a great value in the 2nd. They filled three of their top needs with DE Frank Alexander and WR Joe Adams, both in the 4th, as well as CB with Josh Norman(5th). While this is a good haul, they didn’t address their most glaring need at defensive tackle. If they had a gotten a good player there, this would be an A draft.
New Orleans Saints
Not having picks in the first two rounds made the Saints’ job more difficult. Getting WR Nick Toon in the 4th both fills a need and gets value, so it was a great pick. Picking NT Akien Hicks in the 3rd was a round too early, though it did fill a need. S Corey White was a major reach in the 5th given that he wasn’t even on any teams’ radar as an undrafted free agent. Reaching for Hicks and White, to go along with not addressing their pass rush and cornerback needs don’t make this a good draft at all for New Orleans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs had one of the better drafts because they not only got good players, but worked the board to do so. S Mark Barron in the 1st and CB Keith Tandy in the 6th help out the secondary while LBs Lavonte David (2nd) and Najee Goode (5th) help fill that need. Trading back into the 1st to get RB Doug Martin will help add some punch to their offense. Even FB/TE Drake Dunsmore fills a need in the 7th. The Bucs got a ton of talent that will get them early returns.
Acquiring Brandon Marshall was just the start of a new look Bears offense. Alshon Jeffery(2nd) will slide into the No 2 receiver role and TE Evan Rodriguez(4th) will help given the Bears can now use TEs since Mike Martz is gone. Getting DE Shea McClellin at No 19 fills the need of someone across from Julius Peppers. The rest are big reaches. S Brandon Hardin was picked two rounds too early and CBs Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy, while filling a need for depth at the position, were expected to be free agents after the draft. The most glaring omission was the offensive line, their biggest need.
The Lions were more then pleased when OT Riley Reiff fell to them at No 23 since he fills one of their major needs. They focused on fixing a bad secondary with no less then 3 CBs in Dwight Bentley(3rd), Chris Greenwood(5th) and Jonte Green(6th) who was a but of a reach. Getting two Sooner LBs in Ronnell Lewis(4th) and Travis Lewis(7th) will certainly help their pass rush. WR Ryan Broyles in the 2nd wasn’t a need, but adds to a potent aerial attack. They could’ve gotten an RB late since Best and LeShoure have injury concerns, but this was a great draft for Detroit.
Green Bay Packers
The Pack’s biggest issue coming in was help for the pass rush and did they ever get it. DE Nick Perry(1st), DE/DT Jerel Worthy(2nd) and OLB Terrell Manning(5th) are all great values. OT Andrew Datko was another great value in the 7th and CB Casey Heyward(2nd) will be a good fit in their defense. Even BJ Coleman in the 7th was solid given his upside. They did have back-to-back reaches in the 4th with DT Matt Daniels and S Jeron McMillian, both of whom could’ve gone much later, if drafted at all. However, Green Bay knew what it wanted in this draft and went and got it.
The Vikings will able to pilfer Cleveland for some extra picks and still get the guy they wanted all along in OT Matt Kalil, which allowed them to trade back into the 1st for S Harrison Smith. Great picks that filled needs. They also filled needs with CB Josh Robinson(3rd) and 2 Arkansas WRs in the 4th, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs. LB Audie Cole and DE Trevor Guyton were good values in the 7th. There’s not alot of star power here, but it’s a very solid draft.
The ‘Boys trading up to get Morris Claiborne at No 6 was the first big surprise of the draft. DE Tyrone Crawford was a nice addition in the 3rd as were WR Danny Coale(5th) and TE James Hanna(6th). However, the rest of the picks were questionable, including a big reach in S Matt Johnson who was projected to go undrafted. What really brings this grade down is the failure to address the offensive line, their No 1 need. Then again this is Jerry Jones we’re talking about here.
New York Giants
They were all ready to take Doug Martin at No 32 before Tampa Bay swooped in right ahead of them. So they reached a bit for David Wilson instead, which might have been done in panic. They made up for it by getting WR Reuben Randle at the end of the 2nd as he couldn’t gone way earlier in the round. They got depth for their O-line with OTs Brandon Mosley(4th) and Matt McCants(6th). TE Adrien Robinson has a big potential to bust, but the rest of the picks are solid.
The Eagles perhaps had one of, if not the, best drafts of this year. They filled needs while getting amazing values. They moved up to No 12 to get DT Fletcher Cox and got LB Mychal Kendricks and DE/OLB Vinny Curry in the 2nd. They got a pair of steals in the 6th with WR Marvin McNutt and OG/OT Brandon Washington. Brandon Boykin in the 4th was also a major steal. Even with the other picks, there is a ton of talent here and some that could start from Day 1.
Irregardless of how the rest of the class does, this will be known as the RG3 draft for the Redskins. They gave up alot to get him, so he’ll have a presence in the next few drafts as well. They got him some protection up front with OG Adam Gettis(5th) and OT Tom Compton(6th) but OG Josh LeRibeus was a reach in the 3rd. Taking another QB, Kirk Cousins, in the 4th was questionable at best and they didn’t address the secondary until the 7th. They gave up alot to get RG3 and got him some protection, but no receivers, so that hurts the grade.